|Carter in the NICU.|
In the NICU they are very encouraging of breastfeeding. They want to babies to get the most milk from their moms that they can. They encouraged me to pump and bring in and much as I could to supplement whatever else he was getting. Starting right after birth I began pumping in the hospital. It was very frustrating, painful and tiring at first. I barely made anything the first times I tried, maybe a drop or two total! Over the next few days I continued pumping as instructed and began to produce a little bit more. I would suction up all the tiny drops into the syringes they gave me and proudly show them off to my husband and my mom. At this time my milk was counted in milliliters and I was proud of each tiny one!
Although they encouraged us to try breastfeeding whenever we went in to visit, they weren’t very tolerant of failure. It seemed like if he didn’t latch on right away they would immediately interfere and insist we go to the bottle. So it went on for the whole time he was in the NICU (about 8 days), I would try to feed him, sometimes he would latch sometimes he wouldn’t, then he would get a bottle of either breast milk or formula or some combination of the two.
When we got home we began breastfeeding all the time. He finally “got it” an was able to latch on, although he was very fussy about it. I was told to do 10-15 minutes per side for each session, and then give him some formula after just to make sure he got enough. Weight gain was the most important thing those first few weeks, so that’s why we were told to add the formula bottles into every feeding. After a few weeks I could tell it just wasn’t enough. I wanted to switch to completely breastfeeding, but I didn’t think I was producing enough. I talked to a lactation consultant and she suggested I pump completely for one feeding just to see how much I would make. It was only an ounce.
|Carter is 6 months old now!|
So we continued with the plan of breastfeeding and then supplementing with a bottle. It just didn’t feel right to me. My husband was super supportive of me breastfeeding and very encouraging. In fact, most people were. But, I put all this pressure on myself to do it, even though deep down I knew it wasn’t working out. Breastfeeding to me had started to feel like a chore, like something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do. And I could tell Carter didn’t like it either. It wasn’t bonding for us, we weren’t connecting.
After I went back to work I was pumping during the day and trying to breastfeed at night. At first I was getting between 2 and 3 ounces per session but over time my pumped amounts went down and finally I just told my husband “I do not want to do this anymore.” It was many tears on my part and a serious discussion that brought us to this decision. We didn’t reach my goal of 6 months, we made it about 3. But, I know in retrospect that it was the right decision. We are all much happier now!
I know some people reading this will think “she just didn’t try hard enough” or have some advice for me on what I could have done better. And that may be some people’s opinion. But, I think that it’s different for every person, every situation, it’s a personal decision. Some people chose to formula feed from the very start, some want to breastfeed exclusively for years. But, ultimately we all have to pick what we know is best for our own family.